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Cannabis Brands Brace For Post-Pandemic World, COVID-Induced Challenges Ahead

December 24, 2020 8:37 am
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Cannabis Brands Brace For Post-Pandemic World, COVID-Induced Challenges Ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rear its ugly head, with Covid-19 cases in the US pass 18 million. Over 300,00 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the United States thus far.

A vaccine from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and German partner BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX) is currently being distributed. Moderna Inc.'s (NASDAQ:MRNA) vaccine has also been approved. Both are even being tested against a contagious variant

The hope is that a vaccine could lead to some shred of normalcy in the coming months. However, medical professionals tell Benzinga that while planning for a post-Covid normal is a wise step, a vaccine won't be a cure-all solution and many pandemic policies will likely remain in place.

Related link: How Covid-19 Is Affecting The Cannabis Industry

Consider Planning For The Eventual

Dr. Joseph Allen is a member of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission and director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard, among several public health space titles.

Allan, an associate professor of Exposure Assessment Science at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells Benzinga that companies should think further into 2021.

"Even though winter will likely be bad, having a plan in place for the spring and summer is something businesses should be working on now," Dr. Allan says. No single solution exists, nor is there ever zero risk for exposure.

The goal, he explains, is to minimize risk by "using a layered defense approach by applying what is known in public health as the hierarchy of controls."

Preparing For Many Scenarios

For the most part, cannabis organizations are planning for short- and long-term operations. National Cannabis Industry Association Media Relations Director Morgan Fox thinks businesses should prepare for a post-COVID market with several potential hurdles to consider.

"I think businesses need to balance preparing for a post-Covid world with the possibility that the pandemic could last for a while," Fox says.

Moxie Chief Marketing Officer Tessa Adams offers a similar thought.

"As we learned in early 2020, preparations for a perceived future are important, but also need to be incredibly fluid," Adams says. "We prepare for what we believe to be a potential…but are also prepared for those things not to occur."

Public Health And Financial Practices Likely To Remain In Place

Vice President of Corporate Development for Bellrock Brands Inc (OTC:DXBRF) Trip McDermott believes that many COVID-19 procedures will remain part of the plan in the future.

BellRock intends to keep processes like online ordering, curbside pick-up, and strict adherence to manufacturing procedures.

"The pandemic condensed years of industry development into a short period of time," McDermott says.

The short-term expects to see more of the same, especially when considering the vaccines' slow rollout across the U.S. and rest of the world.

Like BellRock Brands, Las Vegas' Planet 13 Holdings Inc (OTCQX:PLNHF) intends to keep its pandemic policies in place for the foreseeable future. VP of Sales and Marketing, David Farris, said the company is prepared to meet staff and customers' needs as tourists return in larger numbers.

"Mask wearing by staff and customers, wearing of disposable gloves and social distancing guidelines will remain in place," Farris says. 

Some companies also plan to continue pandemic practices that aren't focused on public health.

ExtractCraft CEO Troy Ivan says his company plans to continue its "very defensive" cash management strategy employed back in November 2019 when the company first noticed supply chain issues in China.

"We are just now beginning to deploy more capital for inventory and growth, which has been on hold for just over a year," Ivan says, citing a focus on growth and an ongoing search for the ideal capital partners.

Related link: Cannabis In The Age Of COVID-19: A Doctor Breaks It Down

Some operators find themselves unable to function financially beyond the near-term.

"Unfortunately, many companies have been pushed to the brink over the past year and may not have the ability financially to position far into the future," Ivan adds.

ExtractCraft, while able to survive so far, has experienced supply chain lags, which hinders the company's market aggression and positioning.

"Companies with more restricted supply chains and cash flow difficulties may not have the ability to accelerate out of this exactly how they'd like to,"Ivan adds.

Every operator may still feel the crunch from the pandemic. According to McDermott, companies must continue to find ways to make their products and services more accessible to consumers.

"Separate from new procedures and protocols, post-COVID, all cannabis businesses will face challenges brought on by the economic impact the pandemic has had on people," McDermott says.